Ghost Recon Future Soldier Preview: Not Just Another Military Shooter?
I played a couple rounds of Guerilla, Future Soldier’s version of horde mode, on the PAX East floor. The familiar cover-shooter gameplay came with some fun quirks: turning invisible, seeing enemies (or at least neon outlines of them) through solid surfaces, and using remote-controller drones to reconnoiter the battlefield. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it was amusing enough, at least in a small dose.
I also got a chance to ask Ubisoft rep Theodor Diea about the game, which provided some interesting insights. The first question on mind, given my middling hands-on experience? Why should people abandon their favorite military shooters to pick up an unfamiliar like Future Soldier? “How much should I call out their favorite shooters?” Diea responded insouciantly. “We know what they are, and our game frankly offers more for the player: more choice, more things to do.”
He went on to expand on this assertion, taking a few thinly disguised jabs at the competition: “If you play certain other games, you’re going to have a very linear experience. Sure, it’s a rollercoaster ride, and honestly I think it’s cool. But we’ve gone through a couple of years now when its just kind of the same thing. What we’ve been working on is a shooter that has that old-school flavor — you can choose to go about a situation however you want. It’s got open maps, an open playstyle.”
The linear nature of the current crop of FPS megahits is definitely a pet peeve of mine, so I pressed for details. Diea dished: “In the campaign, when you’re playing, whether its solo or co-op, you’ll come across a battle situation, and you can choose to go about it recon style — scan the layout, and mark enemies. Go for a killshot or go up steathily. If you manage to clear out an entire area, you’ll notice that you go on to the next part of the mission.” So far, so good, but his next tidbit was what really perked my interest: “If you happen to alert somebody, or if you’re being a little careless, you might find yourself up against an APC or a HMMVV and 6 other people that show up. What you find in the game, as far as enemies — their placements, reinforcements — it’s all kind of dependent on how you played moments before.”
I’m not a fan of endlessly respawning enemies or punishing stealth missions, but I like the idea of dynamic difficulty that reacts to the way you play and your ability to be sneaky. You can play Future Soldier with guns blazing, but it sounds like there will be believable consequences for doing so. “That’s kinda cool, because you can go through it multiple times and have a different experience. Or, depending on who you’re with, you can have a different experience,” Diea explained.
I was also intrigued by Future Soldier’s distinctive “surpressing fire” mechanic, which will make it hard to react if you’re being actively shot at. I asked Diea why the developers decided to include it in the game. “In all these other games, if somebody’s shooting at you, you can say ‘hey, it’s cool man. Everything’s alright.’ We wanted to get something a little bit more immersive, a little bit more visceral, and a little bit more realistic. So that’s how we pulled it off — get the camera to go kind of crazy, and your best bet, when that happens, if you’re under surpression, is to try and tag that guy, so that your teammates can take care of the threat. Playing solo, when you mark somebody, that becomes the focus of your AI teammates.”
Future Soldier might not be a ground-breaking change in the military shooter paradigm, but it’s made some sensible, interesting adjustments that should increase the excitement without being too gimmicky. If you’re looking for more realism — but not too much — or simply more choice while playing through a shooter campaign, keep an eye on this game as it approaches release (5/22 for XBOX/PS3, 6/12 for PC).
Game Front was on-site at PAX East all weekend (April 6-8), bringing you daily news, hands-on previews, interviews and pictures. Stay tuned for more PC gaming-focused coverage!